Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Homemade Hooch: Wild Blueberry Liqueur

I doubt if you can have a truly wild party without liquor. – Carl Sandburg

Wild blueberries. Photo: Your Secret Admiral, Flickr ccl
So here’s another instalment in my “do damage to your liver” posts. But only if you overindulge... This time it’s blueberry's turn on the floor. I thought I would post because after strawberry season (I did a strawberry liqueur post earlier) the blueberries are soon to follow. Local berries will be arriving within the next month.

Icelandic Currency Collapse, using Icelandic vodka.
Vodka, triple sec, blueberry liqueur and lime.
Photo: neil alajandro, Flickr ccl (his drink creation)
There are two different blueberry types. The most common are high bush blueberries which are available all year round in the grocery stores. They range up to 5/8 inches or more across. They’re big. I find they sacrifice flavour for size, as opposed to the smaller, wild, uncultivated blueberries which are quite small.

Wild blueberries are so much tastier than cultivated that it’s difficult to describe the difference. The only comparison I can think of is between wild and cultivated strawberries. They’re all strawberries, but…

Nova Scotia has a well organized wild blueberry production system and its economic impact on the province is not insignificant. It is so important that the wild blueberry is legislated as our provincial berry.

There are many producers located in diverse areas of the province. They even have their own association, the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia.

The following info is from their site. Look here, http://www.nswildblueberries.com/ for more information about wild blueberries as well as recipes from the Association on how to use them.
  • Nova Scotia's provincial production is over forty million pounds.
  • The wild blueberry is the number 1 fruit crop in acreage export sales, and value.
  • Oxford is the wild blueberry capital of Canada.
  • Wild blueberries are high in antioxidants which have many health benefits including anti-aging effects, cancer inhibiting properties, heart health, urinary tract health, vision health.
  • Nova Scotia wild blueberries are exported to the United States, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom and other countries.
  • Harvesting of wild blueberries begins in August and continues until late September.

Now, on to the booze. Many recipes call for steeping the fruit for up to four weeks directly in the liquor, but who wants to wait that long? Also I find liquor-steeped berries a bit gross as the colour leeches out and they turn "grey." This recipe uses a fruit/syrup infusion that is then combined with the vodka. You get all the flavour and colour, without the lengthy direct steeping.

This liqueur should age a week or two after making it since the flavour of the berries is a little delicate in relation to the vodka. So it’s a 2-3 week recipe, if you can wait. It won’t kill you if you use it before that time.

Ageing the liqueur. Photo:Willrad, Flickr ccl
Wild Blueberry Liqueur
Depending on the juice in the berries, makes about 1L
4 cups wild blueberries
peel of 1/2 lemon, no white pith
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups good quality vodka

Wash the fruit and place in a non-reactive bowl such as glass or ceramic. Crush the fruit with either a fork or masher. Add the lemon rind.

Combine the sugar and water and bring just to boiling. Remove from the heat and pour over the berries and lemon.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one week.

At the end of the week, strain the blueberries through a fine mesh to remove any solids. Add the vodka and decant into a bottle.

Seal and let sit in a dark spot for a further two weeks.

What can you make with it?
from barnonedrinks.com
  • Blue Nuke Cocktail: Bacardi 151 Proof Rum, Blue Curacao, Blueberry Liqueur, Gin, Sour Mix, Vodka
  • Okanagan Shooter: Apricot Brandy, Blueberry Liqueur, Strawberry Liqueur
  • Purple Cocktail: 7-Up, Blue Curacao, Blueberry Liqueur, Lime Juice, Sloe Gin, Sour Mix, Southern Comfort
  • and of course, on the rocks


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